Astronauts are considered perhaps the most superstitious people on the planet. Traditionally, they take a wormwood twig on the flight, as it retains its scent longer than other plants and reminds of the Earth, and it is customary to see the crew off to the starting complex to the song “Earth in the window”.
Black Mondays and Unlucky Dates
The beginning of "space superstitions" was laid by the famous General Designer Sergei Korolev. It is reliably known that Korolev did not like starts on Mondays and always rescheduled the date if it fell on Monday. Why - and remained a big mystery. Nevertheless, Korolev defended his point of view at the very top, because of this, serious conflicts even flared up. Spaceships did not fly in the Soviet Union on Mondays - the first three years of the space age. Then they started flying, there were 11 accidents. Since 1965, Monday has been considered in Soviet and now Russian cosmonautics almost as an official “non-starting” day.
There are also "unlucky dates" in Baikonur. The start is never scheduled for October 24th. On this day, no serious work is carried out at the launch sites at all. On October 24, 1960, an explosion of an R-16 ICBM carrier rocket took place at the Baikonur launch pad, killing dozens of people. On October 24, 1963, an R-9A rocket flashed on the launch pad. Eight people were burned down.
Another superstition of the famous designer was the “happy” operator, who always pressed the “start” button on command, Captain Smirnitsky. Not a single rocket launch was complete without Smirnitsky. Even when he had eczema, he still pressed the button, because Korolev believed that the man had a “light hand”.
The same Korolev strictly forbade one of his designers to appear on the launch pad during the launch (once during his watch some kind of trouble happened) and personally made sure that he did not even show his nose.
Astronauts never sign autographs before their first flight. Some generally avoid signing autographs in black ink. However, the entire crew must sign a bottle of vodka, which is drunk on the ground, in the Kazakh steppe, after a successful flight.
Astronauts are happy to leave autographs on the door of the hotel room, where they spend the night before the start. It is strictly forbidden to paint over or wash off these autographs.
It is possible to use it for the first time - 12 days before the start, when the main and backup crews arrive at Baikonur for a "release". The "double" cosmonauts are obliged to let through 100 grams of pure technical alcohol. The "main team" can only drink a sip of champagne - after their approval by the state commission as part of the crew.
Half an hour before the start, the backup cosmonauts drink “to the good luck” of the main team together with the journalists. Only two times stunt doubles did not take part in this tradition. The cases were unfortunate, and since then the half-hour tradition has been kept sacred. After returning from the flight, the cosmonauts plant their personal tree on the cosmonaut alley at Baikonur.
Woman on board
They say that because of superstitions, they were afraid to send Valentina Tereshkova into space - everyone remembered the old maritime omen at the expense of a woman on a ship. But the Soviet leadership did not differ in superstition. In 1963, on the eve of the international conference of women in Moscow, it was a woman who was to fly into space.
Yourself with a mustache
The baleen were not allowed into space for a long time. During the flight of the mustachioed Viktor Zholobov, there were problems, and the program had to be terminated ahead of schedule.
Other astronaut oddities
Together with the crew, a soft toy is sent into space, which not only plays the role of a talisman, but also helps the astronauts to catch the moment when the state of zero gravity sets in.
The cosmonauts will never call the launch of any spacecraft “the last”: for example, “the last launch to the Mir station ...” they would prefer to call “extreme”, “final”. Also, astronauts never say goodbye to those who see them off.
Astronauts from the stairs must wave goodbye before boarding the spacecraft.
At the cosmodrome in Plesetsk, before the launch of the carrier rocket, they must write “Tanya” on it. They say that this name was brought out on the first rocket by an officer in love with a certain Tanya. Once, when they forgot to display the happy name on the hull, the rocket exploded before launch.
One day before the start, it is customary to watch the film "White Sun of the Desert", for more than 30 years all cosmonauts have been doing this. This is due to the tragic page in the history of Russian cosmonautics: the death of a crew of Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Patsaev on June 30, 1971 when returning to Earth. The next flight on the Soyuz-12 went well, and the cosmonauts found out that before the flight the crew had watched the film “White Sun of the Desert”. The following crews also viewed this picture. After that, everyone flew into space without any problems.
It is considered a rule for astronauts to pee on the wheel of the bus carrying them to the launch pad. After that, the spacesuit is tightly fastened to them, and the next opportunity to relieve themselves will appear only after a few hours already in open space. The ritual seems to have gone back to the time of Yuri Gagarin, who asked to stop the car in the Kazakh steppe on the way to Baikonur. Others consider the ancestor of this tradition to be the general designer Sergei Korolev, who always irrigated the rocket before launching.
Finally, before the launch, the cosmonauts receive a friendly kick from the chief.
But with the 13th number, there are no special superstitions among Russian cosmonauts and rocket scientists. Of course, few people like this number, but we definitely don't have madness on “Friday the 13th”. But NASA does not like the 13th very much - there have already been unpleasant incidents. So, the famous lunar "Apollo 13" went to the earth's satellite on April 11, and on April 13 an explosion occurred on board the ship - one of the oxygen tanks exploded.